US Navy Conducts Ballistic Missile Terminal Intercept at Sea

Released on Thursday, May 25, 2006
United States of America
CG 47 (VLS)
Standard SM-2 Block IV
Standard SM-3 Block IA
BMD - Ballistic Missile Defense
MDA - Missile Defense Agency
TBMD - Theater Ballistic Missile Defense
USS - United States Ship
The U.S. Navy, in cooperation with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), successfully conducted a ballistic missile defense (BMD) demonstration May 24 involving the intercept of a target missile in the terminal phase (the last few seconds) of flight.

The test involved an Aegis cruiser modified to detect, control and engage a ballistic missile target with a modified Standard Missile - 2 (SM-2) Block IV. The Pearl Harbor-based Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) conducted the mission against a short-range target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii.

It was the first sea-based intercept of a ballistic missile in its terminal phase.

The modified Aegis Weapon System and the modified SM-2 Block IV provided the firing ship the capability to guide the missile to achieve either a direct body-to-body hit between the interceptor and the threat or a near-direct hit where the high pressure, heat and fragments are placed on the threat by a blast fragmentation warhead.

This warhead is similar in concept to that used in the deployed Israeli Arrow system. In this test, the threat missile was completely destroyed by the combined effects of these two mechanisms.

There is currently no sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense capability. The Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) Program, had been under development, but was terminated in December 2001. In ballistic missile defense, the modified Aegis Weapon System, with a modified SM-2 Block IV missile provides a near term, limited emergency capability against a very specific segment of the ballistic missile threat. The Navy and MDA consider it vital to develop a more robust capability for terminal ballistic missile defense of the joint sea base and friendly force embarkation points ashore.


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